How to Mix Soil for Potting


Container planting is an ideal way to grow plants if your yard has poor soil or drainage. However, multiple containers require plenty of potting soil, which can end up being rather expensive. Save money by mixing your own potting soil. Find the ingredients in your own backyard or at a big box store.

Make Your Own Mix

Step 1

Screen the compost and the garden soil by placing the material on a 1/4-inch mesh screen and shaking. Put the bigger chunks back in the compost pile for further decomposition.

Step 2

Combine equal parts compost and garden soil. Add water until the mixture is moist but not soggy.

Step 3

Pile the mixture into a deep baking dish. Don't pack the mixture in because you want the steam made from the water to freely circulate. Cover it with foil. Put a meat thermometer through the foil into the mixture. Place the dish in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F.

Step 4

Check the temperature after 10 minutes, then every five minutes until the thermometer reads 170 degrees F. Turn off the oven and let the pan sit in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Step 5

Dump the mixture into a clean bucket with a lid for storage. Add sand to lighten the mixture, if necessary for the plants you are growing.

Mix from Store-Bought Ingredients

Step 1

Mix equal parts perlite, peat moss and compost.

Step 2

Add a handful of high-nitrogen fertilizer for every 5 gallons of the mixture.

Step 3

Mix in a 50:50 ratio of the mixed potting soil with garden soil for raised beds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't let the mixture get above 180 degrees F. If there's a strong smell, the mixture has gotten too hot. The smell should be earthy, not foul.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost, rotted leaf mold or sawdust
  • Sand
  • 1/4-inch mesh screening
  • Garden soil
  • Baking dish
  • Oven
  • Bucket with lid
  • Purchased compost
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite


  • Mother Earth News: How To Make Your Own Potting Soil
  • "Great Ideas for Your Garden"; Courtier, et al; 2003
Keywords: homemade potting soil, make potting soil, mix potting soil

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.